Philippe Zdar, The Man Who Became Music
Last time we crossed his path, he told us he wanted to breathe his last breath on the magical island of Ibiza. But that last breath was drawn in Paris– on June 19th, at 52 years old, Philippe “Zdar” Cerboneschi died after he fell out the window of a high-rise building.
One half of Motorbass (along with Etienne de Crécy, on the seminal French Touch record Pansoul in 1996), one half of La Funk Mob, one half of Cassius (with Hubert “Boombass” Blanc-Francard). Zdar was the kind of guy who enjoyed life and music as one and the same. He lent a helping hand on big-name records (Hot Chip, The Rapture, Beastie Boys, Sébastien Tellier, Cat Power, Two Door Cinema Club …) in the same way he once gifted a studio session to an Ivorian reggaeman who was chilling on his doorstep.
Zdar was a major figure in the French music industry as well as abroad. But even after 25 years in the business, he knew to stay humble, and he managed to keep his love of songwriting alive. When asked about his work, he responded: “I’m always trying to let my inner child roam free in my songs. I try to put that into all the records I touch. I help people find their teenage self again”. He started working with Boombass in the early 90s hip-hop scene, on Prose Combat (MC Solaar’s first album), and on maxi singles for Mo’Wax, James Lavelle’s record label. Through Cassius, the project that brought them widespread fame, Zdar converted his partner to house. 1999 and I Love U So were major hits. All the while, he forged his own path as a producer for the best and brightest of his time: Cat Power, Chromeo, Tiga, Franz Ferdinand, Kanye West, and Phoenix – the band with which he won his first Grammy Award in 2010 for Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Recently, he was in the thick of the promotional cycle for the new Cassius record, Dreems, which was poised to come out on June 21st. Undoubtedly, the soundtrack to what will be a very gloomy summer.